'The Pioneer Woman': Ree Drummond Says 1 of the 'Secrets to My Happiness' Is Having This Item in Her Fridge

We all have our “happy place” when it comes to our favorite foods and recipes. For The Pioneer Woman star Ree Drummond, it’s a simple yet oh-so-flavorful recipe that she enjoys on so many dishes. Here’s Drummond’s little dish of happiness.

Drummond’s Salsa Roja is her regular must-have

In her cookbook titled The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier — 112 Fantastic Favorites for Everyday Eating, Drummond wrote about her burning love for Salsa Roja, the fresh-tasting, rich-flavored, smooth Mexican salsa that goes so well on almost anything, especially if you want a bit of a kick in your food.

“I was about to write that this is more of a sauce than a salsa, but then I reminded myself that the literal translation of salsa is ‘sauce,’” Drummond wrote. “So I guess what I am trying to say is that this smooth, chunk-free salsa is set apart from the regular stuff into which we’re all used to dipping our tortilla chips. It’s made with dried guajillo chiles, which have become my best friends in recent years due to their mild-but-mysterious flavor. I love making this salsa! Having it in the fridge is one of the secrets to my happiness.”

What’s in her happy salsa

In her Salsa Roja, which Drummond refers to as “sexy” in the cookbook (“Yes, I just called salsa sexy. What’s that all about?”), the Food Network star includes dried Guajillo chiles, garlic cloves, onion, cilantro, fire-roasted tomatoes, olive oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper.

The chiles, garlic, onion, and cilantro are combined in a large saucepot and the mixture is covered with water. The water is brought to a boil for a couple of minutes, then set to one side, covered. Once the dried chiles have softened, it’s all transferred to a blender for one minute. The tomatoes and olive oil are added and blended further. Now, the mixture is strained through a sieve to produce a smooth, deeply colored sauce which is brought to another boil, cooled completely, and then seasoned with the lime juice, salt, and pepper. It can be stored for two weeks in the refrigerator.

Reviewers didn’t get a kick out of Drummond’s salsa

While the mother of five may love her Salsa Roja recipe, reviewers weren’t feeling that same love for it. Five out of six reviews on the Food Network site gave the recipe three stars or under.

One home cook got a little personal saying, “More like enchilada sauce. But what do I know? I’m from San Diego and not Oklahoma.”

Another reviewer inexplicably added brown sugar to the recipe although it’s not on Drummond’s ingredients list and gave it two stars: “Very time consuming for a very disappointing result. It was very difficult to get any solids out of the strainer. I ended up with bitter, rust-colored water. Even after adding tomato sauce and brown sugar, there was still an unpleasant, bitter aftertaste.”

“Bitter, bland, and disappointing,” was what yet another home cook had to say.

Finally, another reviewer offered helpful criticism to get the most out of the ingredients: “The flavor was good, but after all the work and straining the mixture, I ended up with 1/2 cup of salsa. I think the mixture should be strained and then the can of tomatoes added.”

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